Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Roger Rabbit 2 CGI Test



The rumors have been going around recently that Roger Rabbit 2, the sequel one of my favorite movies of all time, is getting closer to actually moving ahead. At this point, the original is 22 years old- and Robert Zemeckis is threatening to use his awful-looking mo-cap technology to render the humans. Personally, I don't care how realistic it looks- it takes away from a lot of the charm of the original, which was about 1940's ink-and-paint interacting in the real flesh-and-blood world. It captured my 7-year-old imagination like no other film I have ever seen, and I don't think digital characters could ever have the same effect.

That being said, this here is a CGI test done in 1998, which just leaked on Cartoon Brew




It actually doesn't look as bad as I would have thought. Very fluid and rubbery, especially for 1998. Still, for my money, if you're gonna do it, do it right.






Again, not bad, but it doesn't really hold up on still frames. Give the work to those veterans of hand-drawn!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Now THAT'S How You Sell A Comic Book

The idea of a comic book cover is that it has to be eye-catching, dynamic, something that draws you in and makes you want to read what's inside, right? Well, in that case, this may be the greatest comic book cover I've ever seen:


How could you possibly resist?

I thought this was an old EC comic at first, but on closer inspection it appears to be from Comic Media. They were probably trying to ride some of William Gaines' wave, but apparently didn't last long.




"Ghostly Tales of Spine-Chilling Horror!" I couldn't have come up with a better tagline if I tried.

I love the old comic titles, by the way. They really lay it on thick in terms of telling you what you're getting. "Horrific", "Weird Terror." EC had "Weird Science", "Weird Fantasy", and "Weird Science Fantasy." Marvel had things like "Tales of Suspense" and "Tales To Astonish", among others. What are some other good ones from the old days? 

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Definitely Dinosaurs- A Toy That Time Forgot

Keeping with the theme from yesterday of funny nostalgia...

Definitely Dinosaurs were a line of dinosaur action figures from the 80s, and my brothers and I, being kids, boys, and living in the 80s, had some of them. They were just ordinary dinosaur figures...



Nothing special, but pretty cool, right? One of the funny things about them is that they each came with a little caveman figure. Was this the work of some creationist nut trying to push his wacky theories on us impressionable kids? Probably not, I like to think it was more of a Flintstones-inspired thing. Dinosaurs are fun, cavemen are fun, put 'em together and sir, you've got yourself a fun little toy!


To me and my brothers, though, the funny part was this guy:



Who designed this thing, and whose idea was it to make a caveman with a shaved head and a mustache? Why would a caveman have a look like this? Guess it was an 80's thing.

I love this guy.


Monday, August 30, 2010

Comic Book Buddies



Today they had this hilarious toy photo on Cartoon Brew:



It's unbelievable the kind of things that can slip by an editor. I imagine this must be from some cheap knockoff toy from another country- could this possibly fly here?

The post actually reminded me of another unintentionally dirty image I had seen in one of my old comic books a few years ago. Through the amazing magic of Google, I was able to actually find it again! I'll just let the picture speak for itself for now:


Wow, right? This passed muster with the Comics Code Authority?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Summeritis and Sketches of Chicks



Hi folks!


Yeah, I've been horrible about posting this summer. Maybe I've been preoccupied since my wife and I have a baby on the way... not to mention our week's vacation down the shore, bathroom renovations, moving in new furniture, a hectic work schedule...


...or maybe these are all just excuses.


Anyway, time to move forward. I've got a backlog of topics to talk about, but for now here are a couple of sketches of women I did a while back.


This one reminds me of that young rising starlet, Amanda Seyfried (couldn't remember her name, thanks Google)


It's no secret that women are harder to draw than men, particularly when you are cartooning. It's harder to make them look pretty... with men, you can make them lumpy, ugly, angular, whatever and it's usually acceptable. Feminine characters require a bit more subtlty and restraint, but not too much- you don't want to hold back on the caricaturization, and end up with a drawing that is too weak or soft.


Hmmm.


Oh, and in case you were wondering, I didn't get accepted into that art show. Erica did, though! Guess that means I have to show my face at the gallery opening.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Man In The Park



My old alma mater, The College of New Jersey, is holding an alumni art exhibition in September, to which my wife submitted a fantastic piece of art, a re-working of her graduate school thesis project actually. She kept pestering me to actually complete and submit something, but for whatever reason – lack of inspiration, I would suspect, but that isn't really an excuse when it comes to doing work – I never got around to it until the very last possible moment, which happened to be this past Friday.


I stayed up late and put together this piece, which represents the illustration/cartooning style I like to use, and I think tells enough of a story to justify its existence.




Here is the original drawing I had in the bank- this one was low-res and semi-pointless, so I felt I should elaborate on the idea and put the character in a basic setting.




I also submitted this one, just for good measure. Hope I get in – actually, that we both do!!! Good luck, Erica (though she doesn't need it, her work is amazing).

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Lousy Album Covers by Artists Who Should Know Better


Just for fun, let's continue on the same topic as my last post. This may become a recurring feature, because let's face it, there's a lot of questionable album art out there.

It's a shame, but today album art is pretty unappreciated. The glorious 12x12" record sleeves from my dad's collection have been reduced to less than 5" square in my CD rack. For today's kids, it now exists as a 300x300 pixel JPG that pops up on their iPod (or, more likely, doesn't appear at all). Imagine trying to pick out all the faces on Sgt. Pepper's on something like that.

Still, if you're an artist who cares about the quality of the product you're putting out, the cover art should really be regarded as a part of that. If nothing else, it reflects the image of the music and the artist whether you like it or not.

This post is not about unknowns or no-name bands who couldn't afford a good designer or have questionable taste to begin with. These are established artists who really ought to give a little thought to how they are coming across. I love all these guys but just can't understand how they let stuff that looked like this out on the market.


Bruce Springsteen- Plugged (1997)

First of all, I don't agree with his decision to "plug in" on the unplugged show. Bruce has enough great songs that he should have been able to pull this one off. Then, he loads it almost entirely with songs from his two contemporary albums, Human Touch and Lucky Town, the least memorable work from his "adult contemporary" period.


Now onto the artwork. To me, this looks like the work of a student in Graphic Design 101, who just learned Photoshop and Illustrator and is using every trick in his arsenal to really "wow" you. The stretched-out text, the clipping path around the Bruce photo so we get not one but two Bruces on top of each other, one apparently clapping politely at the other. The big red X over the "Un" is the perfect visual pun to complete the picture.


I definitely produced work like this my freshman year of college, and nobody ever gave me a job because of it. Nor should they.



Bob Dylan- Saved (1980)

The born-again message on all the songs is already questionable, but this cover is just embarrassing. It looks like it came from one of those Seasonal Missalettes at church, or worse, like he hired one of his fellow parishioners to do it.

It just doesn't belong on the cover of an album by one of the coolest, most revered songwriters ever.



Bob Dylan- Knocked Out Loaded (1986)


Not to pick on ol' Bob, but this one is just awful. I would seriously hate to see this thing blown up on a full-size record sleeve.


The album title is pretty cool, though.






The Rolling Stones- Dirty Work (1986)


I realize that bright, neon colors were perceived as cool in 1986, but this was folly. The music on this album is generally considered to be the band's worst, and to me, the cover says, "yeah, this is us now." There is absolutely no attempt to be any kind of cool.


As an extra morsel of excruciating unpleasantness, take a look at the way Keith's bent knee is positioned in relation to Mick's wide-open crotch, like a big black arrow on the otherwise day-glo canvas. I guarantee you this was no accident.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Lousy Beatles Covers



It's funny to think, as protective as the Beatles are with the presentation of their catalog, that there was a time the record label would abuse their image as much as any cut-rate, has-been artist. This is one of the first albums EMI released after gaining control of the Beatles' music:




Think Sgt. Pepper, Abbey Road... and eventually, this.


Ringo supposedly had this to say: "It made us look cheap and we never were cheap. All that Coca-Cola and cars with big fins was the Fifties!" It's a pretty lousy illustration... but not as bad as what was to come:



Can you believe this? It's got to be one of the lamest album covers of all time. Click on it to zoom in and take a look at Ringo. How many arms does he have?


The Beatles have a much tighter grip on the stuff that comes out with their names on it now. And for the most part, it's pretty high quality (the cover to "1" is iconic in its own right at this point). So hopefully, we can consider the cartoon painting era of Beatles album covers over.


Still don't quite get what happened with this one, though:


Monday, May 24, 2010

The Final 24



Well, tonight was the last episode of 24, and I must say it was a good one. This season started out slow but for the past few weeks has been just as violent, misogynistic and heart-pounding as I always want it to be. The very end was a little bit of a rehash of the way they've ended seasons before, but the goodbye to Chloe was nice, and it leaves the door open for future Jack Bauer adventures.

The drawing above was done about four or five years ago, in front of the TV when I couldn't sleep one night. I copied it from a photo in some magazine. Ah, here it is:


Looking at it now, there's a lot that doesn't match up exactly. But I think my Bauer looks more like he's about to pull the trigger. Just a little angrier.

Again, this was a great episode, but wasn't quite as good as the greatest series finale ever.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Frank Frazetta, 1928-2010



I only became really aware of Frank Frazetta recently... in fact I just did this post about him about a month ago. While he is most famous for his fantasy paintings like Conan the Barbarian, I was more struck by a painting of a cowboy falling off his horse... the composition and technique just inspired me.



To be honest, the fantasy-style stuff was never my favorite, in any context. But Frazetta was someone I could admire: a true craftsman, with a defined style and mastery of his craft.



Frank wasn't just skilled at his one area of specialization, either. He used to draw Li'l Abner comics for Al Capp, and worked with Ralph Bakshi on his film "Fire and Ice". Even if is style is nothing like mine there is still a lot I could take away form his compositions, harsh shadows and highlights and just the understanding of the human form in both realistic (above) and caricatured ways.





This gorilla is awesome.




The above painting of Ringo is from a MAD Magazine in the 60's, and was an early break in his career. He also did a number of album covers in the 70s and 80s, mostly by heavy metal acts (another genre I am largely uninterested in). But that's another thing I liked about Frazetta- his work was exciting and unique and people liked looking at it. This is just something that is much rarer in popular culture these days, this appreciation for imagination and craftsmanship.

Read his obituatry here. It says he was so popular, publishers would buy one of his paintings to use as a cover, then commission some writer to bang out a story to publish it with. Now that's talent.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A Work In Progress




This is, as the title states, a work-in-progress. The background won't be part of the finished illustration; I just wanted to make it look a little more finished for now.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Musicians




Haven't posted in a few days, so here's a Post-It doodle from work. I think the tall guy is great; the shorter guy was added to balance things out with a little contrast.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Don't Forget To Pay Your Taxes!



It's Tax Day! And Uncle Sam wants you to do your part!




Make sure you file those returns on time... or else Uncle Sam will get even, his way...



When he gets angry, he might even go on a rampage like King Kong...


And once the shirt comes off, there's truly no stopping him!



And if you still don't want to pay your taxes, as a last resort, he'll steal your children and sell them as slaves in a foreign land!



Better get those forms in order!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Did you say "Abe Lincoln"?



It's allergy season again, and last night was a hellride for Ol' Kingfish. I just couldn't stop sneezing. Hence, this illustration of the day.



God bless you, my friend!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Takin' Off Like Bob & Doug


I'm taking off tomorrow morning on a trip to Montreal, Canada (also known as "America's Europe"), so I thought I'd leave you with a little doodle I cooked up today. I'm not really sure how well this is translating, but basically the one guy is pulling on the other guy's tongue, and his skin is being pulled off from the inside as it is directly attached to the base of his tongue.


See you next week!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Ren & Stimpy Should Maybe Try Some Tums





Here's a Ren & Stimpy Doodle I just felt like doing today. I wanted to give them specific expressions, and right now it looks like they're both ready to throw up or something. It feels like in the last day or two I've been surrounded by sick people; maybe that's showing through a little.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Coming Soon To A Theater Near You



Look at these awesome designs for the new Yogi Bear movie. They look great, don't they- and they've cast Dan Aykroyd as the voice of Yogi, and Justin Timberlake as Boo Boo. I've always thought that a young cartoon bear cub should have the voice of a human man. And he's a huge pop star, too, so you know he'd be a great voice actor.




April Fool.


Not about the movie- it is supposedly happening. But obviously this entire concept is ridiculous. Why make this movie? What is the point of taking characters, designed in 2D by experts in a deliberately flat and stylized way, and trying to make them look "real"?


And the casting of Timberlake is so inappropriate, it's just embarrassing- obvious corporate pandering to a completely irrelevant demographic.


The original Ed Benedict design

Although I bet a ton of kids are going to flock to the theaters when they hear Dan Aykroyd is in it.


I hate to use this blog to rant, because I like it to remain more positive in tone (I don't want my wife to think of me as a curmudgeon either!), but I saw this and had to comment. What do you think?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Sketchbook to Strip


When I draw or illustrate, it's really difficult to get the finished version to look like the pencil sketch. The rough lines and loose drawing very often feels more lively, with more personality. However, the pencil sketches lack what the finished drawing needs- stronger layout, better-defined lines so the picture reads with more clarity. To look professional and suitable for print you need that extra step.
Below you can see what I mean. This is a comic strip- called A Case Of The Mondays- that I do for our internal company newsletter. This one is based on the premise that we have a lot of potted plants in the office.




I can't really say much for the joke, except that if you worked here you'd probably like it.

Anyway, I feel that the pencil sketches, particularly on the first two panels, have a great quality to them. I could have matched the poses up better if I spent more time on it, but with cartoons a certain amount of spontaneity is really important.

I'll leave you with a panel I cut. This would have been the second panel- but it actually kind of works by itself in a way, doesn't it? In a creepy kind of way. 




Monday, March 22, 2010

Frazetta


Here's a cool illustration I came across a few days ago on the Illustration Art blog:


It's by Frank Frazetta, who is primarily a science fiction illustrator but must have done this for a book or magazine or something along the way. For me, it's a shining example of what makes illustration stand alone as remarkable, underappreciated art form. The forms are rendered so well, showing real weight, movement and power. Positive and negative shapes are clearly defined to create a complete composition. And despite the broad, heavy brushwork, the details are all there (click on the image for a closeup- in particular, look at all the muscles and bone structure in the horse's face).

If you were to see this same scene in a modern art museum today, it would be made in primary colors and intentionally made to look like a six-year-old did it. Personally, I am much more impressed with expert craft than any abstract statement about the artist's life. A picture like this speaks to me and really turns something on in my mind.


This is my attempt to copy Frazetta... I figure if I copy guys like this it can only help me improve in terms of composition and contrast.


Above is my drawing laid on top of Frazetta's, to see how accurate I was. The horse is ok, but I admittedly spent a lot more time on it. The guy is more off- his leg is too long and not high enough, the arm not thrown back enough. Looking at my version on its own, though, I do still think it works.


Here, I digitally went over it in Photoshop just for kicks. (I actually think it may be an improvement on the straight pencil version.)


Above: From MAD Magazine #90, 1964. More on Frank here!